“For a woman, where are you going to hide that gun during the day? If you wear a dress, if you wear a skirt, are you going to have to wear a jacket everyday with a belt and a holster the way a detective on duty would do?” — CNN law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes
Yes. Really. He really did ask that.
He wasn’t really asking, of course. He was just explaining that women really can’t manage the complex, manly task of carrying a gun. Based on his wide experience as being a woman who carries a gun, I guess?
This would pretty well be the definition of ‘mansplaining’ — not a word that I’m generally a fan of, but it fits. Fuentes, who is not a woman, felt it necessary to explain on national television that women cannot discreetly carry a gun.
News to me.
I wonder if Fuentes realizes just how common concealed carry really is? It seems that at least 6.5% of American adults have carry permits. That number jumps to around 8% of adults when we remove California and New York from the count.
So “how to carry a gun” is not exactly rare and esoteric knowledge. It’s something that at least one-in-twenty adults in America already does, at least some of the time.
But that’s just men, right? Women can’t do this thing.
There are at least 16.3 million concealed carry permit holders in the United States. Women made up 36% of permit holders in the 14 states that provide data by gender, which would — if trends were solid across the remaining states — mean that at least 5.8 million women have concealed carry permits now. Eight states had data from 2012 to 2016 and they saw a 326% faster increase in permits among women than among men. 1
Okay then. We’ve apparently all gone out and gotten our carry permits, but we find it literally impossible to carry … right?
For the past 18 years, I have carried nearly every day of my life. Everywhere it was legal, everywhere I could. It has changed my life in some pretty profound ways, especially my internal landscape. But it was neither impossible nor even particularly hard to do, once I made up my mind to just do it.
On a practical level, there’s really nothing wrong with wearing a belt and a holster underneath a pretty cover garment. I’ve done that the majority of the time, for years. The cover garment does not have to be a business jacket (done that), or a sloppy sweatshirt (done that, too). Of course it can be either of those things, but it doesn’t have to be.
My favorite cover garment right now is a long, snug tank top layer with a bit of lace on the bottom that reaches my upper thighs. But it’s snug, so the gun’s outline shows. Doesn’t matter, because on top of that I often wear a cropped sweater that just barely brushes my belt line. The cropped sweater breaks up the outline of the gun, while the tank top conceals the gun. It’s cute and warm for a winter look, the layers are in style and it works just fine. No stupid old jacket or ugly IDPA vest required.
Big news here: cute clothes can hide a gun just as well as — or better than! — ugly ones can.
But this isn’t news to you, is it?
Anyway, if I don’t want to wear a belt, I have other options. I might, for example, put on a Can Can Concealment Hip Hugger or Corset Holster. Inside, I’d probably add a S.H.E. (Soft Holster Insert) from Concealment Solutions. That would protect the trigger much more securely than most soft holsters manage to do. I could wear that with any skirt or dress I own, and — bonus! — the gun rides in the same place on my body as it does while using a conventional holster, only without a belt.
Or I might grab one of my bra holsters — a Flashbang or a Marilyn — from the Flashbang company. The signature Flashbang rides right in front, tucked up underneath the girls, and it is surprisingly discreet even in form-fitting clothes. The Marilyn rides inside the bra, snugly fitting just under the armpit so the gun rides in essentially the same location as a classic shoulder holster. Only (again!) more discreet. I’ve worn that one to weddings in my dancing dress, and no one the wiser… not even my-friend-the-cop who nearly made himself cross-eyed looking for it, and finally asked me to dance so he could check a little more closely. I’m still laughing.
There are other choices. For example, if I were working out or planned to be very physically active, I might put on a Pistol Wear belly band. This remains one of my favorite soft holsters of all time, because it is so comfortable and made to stay with you while moving. I could use a SHE insert for it as well, but another option that works well for protecting the trigger a bit better is a Universal CCW Holster from Maxpedition. This odd little piece of sturdy webbing wraps neatly around the trigger guard, protecting the trigger from any outside influence. It also puts a thick layer of spiky Velcro on the outside of the gun so that it stays exactly where you want it to stay, without moving around at all inside the spacious Pistol Wear pocket.
Plenty of other options out there, too. I’m sure at least one of the five million other women who have carry permits could probably have given CNN similar information.
If they’d asked.